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2 social networking errors to avoid

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“Aren’t you afraid clients won’t need you?” A colleague asked me this question when I told him I was including my entire referral process in my first book No More Cold Calling. Yes, I was giving everything away—my content, my best ideas, a process that took years to perfect. 

Why? Because if you’ve reached the top of your game, you’ve gotten there because you’ve helped others along the way. You’ve shared tips and ideas, told clients when they were going down the wrong path, suggested articles and books and (gasp!) even given them access to your intellectual property. These days, we don’t call this “giving stuff away.” It’s social engagement, and it’s how you become a trusted resource. Put simply: By giving freely to our prospects, we give them reasons to buy from us.

Social selling works only if you’re social without trying to sell. No pitching, no inviting people to connect with you on LinkedIn just so you can pitch them, and no spamming people just because you belong to the same LinkedIn group. That’s not selling, it’s obnoxious.

Here are two social engagement mistakes salespeople make:

Cold calling on social media. Don’t invite people to connect on LinkedIn just to sell them something. Social media is a great tool for researching prospects and referral sources and for positioning yourself as a thought leader. But it’s not the place for sales pitches. If you’re sending sales offerings to strangers on social media, you’re pretty much cold calling. Your prospect doesn’t know you and doesn’t expect to hear from you. Whether you’re dialing for dollars, sending emails or reaching out on social media to people you don’t know, your approach is ice cold. And you’ll get the cold shoulder in return for your efforts.

Asking for referrals on social media. Never, ever ask for a referral introduction on LinkedIn. You’re jeopardizing your relationship by assuming the other person even wants to refer you. Most people refer only those they know well and trust implicitly. If you don’t know someone well enough to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, you don’t know that person well enough to ask for a referral. Plus, until you actually talk to potential referral sources, you don’t know how they’re connected to the prospects you want to meet or if they even know those people well enough to make referral introductions.

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Helping others—whether they’re clients, prospects or colleagues—will not detract from your own success. It will add to it.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader and author of No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust. For more information, go to www.nomorecoldcalling.com.